Lights, camera, action–if only it were that easy to present a virtual event! We’ve put together a list of 8 tips to help prepare your speakers for their virtual debut.
1. Create a speaker tool kit.
Put together a packet of information for your speakers so that they know exactly what to expect:
- Include a calendar with any deadlines and practice sessions clearly noted.
- Provide access to any branded conference materials such as PowerPoint/Google Slide templates or virtual conference backgrounds.
- Send download and installation instructions for any conferencing software they will need to use.
2. Give equipment and setup suggestions.
Presenters will want a light source in front of, not behind, them. However, that doesn’t mean they have to point a lamp directly at their face. They should position any lamps so that the light bounces off of a wall in front of them for a more diffused lighting effect. If that’s not possible, they should use lampshades to make sure the lighting is not too harsh. If they have windows behind them, encourage them to close the curtains.
Speakers should place their camera a few inches above eye level and aim it slightly down for the most flattering angle. If they are using an integrated webcam, this may mean that they have to prop their laptop up on something or invest in a laptop stand.
Speakers should declutter the room behind them or, if using Zoom, utilize a virtual conference background. Zoom’s virtual conference background automatically recognizes and replaces the space around the presenter with their chosen background. Increase continuity by providing coordinating, branded virtual backgrounds to all of your speakers. Canva offers a free tool to create virtual conference backgrounds from scratch or by modifying one of their templates.
Have your speakers test the microphone options available to them to determine which one offers the best sound quality. They may have an acceptable internal computer microphone or need to obtain a USB headset or microphone. If they’re using their internal computer microphone, ask them to test it in different rooms to see which gives the best acoustic results.
Internet and other applications
If using Wi-Fi, your presenters may need to test different locations in their house to determine which offers the strongest connection. Typically, the closer they can get to their router, the better off they will be.
Additionally, you should ask your presenters to close any applications that may compete with the video conferencing platform for resources. In an article on getting the most of out of your video conferencing experience, Zoom explains “When streaming 30 frames per second, your camera is taking 30 pictures of you each and every second, then sending them to the processor with instructions to forward the images through Zoom…This process requires the energy of your CPU. To engage in the smoothest possible meetings, close any applications you don’t need to use for the meeting itself.”
3. Offer wardrobe tips for what looks best on camera.
Encourage them to wear a full, business-appropriate outfit. It’s tempting to choose comfortable, casual attire for the clothing items that we think will be out of frame. However, you never know when you’ll have to stand up or move around. The internet has plenty of examples of these wardrobe mishaps–try not to add to the list!
In addition to half-formed outfits, it’s best to avoid:
- Busy patterns or stripes that may cause a moiré effect on camera.
- Reflective clothing or jewelry that bounces light in a distracting manner or allows your attendees to see more of the speaker’s environment than they should.
- Noisy clothing or jewelry that creates distracting background noise.
- Clothes the same color as their background (especially if utilizing a virtual conference background or green screen). Otherwise, your speakers may end up looking like a floating head.
4. Give your speakers a choice between pre-recorded or live presentations
Not all speakers are comfortable or familiar with live-streaming a presentation. Give them the option to pre-record their session material. Then, embed the video in your virtual event portal to share the content with your attendees. Even if a session is pre-recorded, you can still incorporate live components into your schedule like Q&A with the speaker.
5. Encourage speakers to streamline their content
We’re all balancing many responsibilities while staying at home. You might be competing for your attendees’ attention with their work, housework, children, pets, or other distractions. They may need to request uninterrupted, quiet time from their housemates. Keep virtual sessions shorter than their in-person counterparts or risk losing some of your audience along the way.
6. Practice, practice, practice!
Hold several practice sessions with your speakers:
- Host a small webinar where your speakers can be the attendees. Let them experience the video conferencing platform including any features like breakout rooms, polling, or Q&A, from an attendee’s point of view. This will help them see how to structure their content in the most engaging way for your attendees.
- Do a quick practice session with everything that will be used during the session. Have them dress in their planned outfit and set up all of the hardware and software they will use. This is your chance to troubleshoot and perfect things like lighting, video, and sound while your speakers get familiar with the tools they’ll be using on presentation day.
- Record a full run-through of the session. Your speaker can review the video and make any adjustments needed prior to the event. You can save the recording to use as a back-up plan if there are any technical difficulties on the day of the event.
7. Define your roles
Decide who will be responsible for components like hosting the meeting, screen sharing, moderating the chat/Q&A, and launching polls. Whenever possible, involve multiple points of support staff so that the presenter can focus solely on delivering their presentation.
8. Prepare back-up plans
All support staff should have a copy of the presentation materials so that they can start screen sharing if the person sharing drops out. If possible, record a practice session so that you can stream the video for your attendees if the speaker is unable to join the conference.
Virtual events are a new experience for many speakers. Since there are numerous video conferencing tools available, even those familiar with the process may not be knowledgeable about your specific software provider. Though this is a time of uncertainty, with careful planning we can minimize anxiety around recording and streaming presentations. Make sure to check in with your speakers periodically before the event to gauge their comfort level and to help them with the new skills they need to master.
Find out more about how our Virtual Conference Software can help your event!
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